Stine Helene Falsig Pedersen

Cancer kills nearly 10 mio people every year globally. A fundamental open question in cancer biology is the importance of physicochemical tumor niches (for example, acidosis, lactate accumulation, hypoxia) to cancer development.
The project aim is to map and understand these niches. We will combine our unique expertise in cancer acid-base and lactate regulation with technological breakthroughs in spatial techniques to:
– Provide superimposed maps of physicochemical tumor niches and cancer- and stromal cell transcriptomes;
– Use this to design a CRISPR screen to understand how these niches affect cancer cell behavior
– Finally, identify proteins and pathways sensitive to specific physicochemical tumor properties that can be used as novel biomarkers and treatment targets
By taking understanding of the physicochemical tumor microenvironment far beyond the state-of-the-art, and providing new cancer biomarkers and tools, the project is potentially transformative for science and society.

Henrik Dimke

There is a 10% risk of developing a kidney stone throughout ones lifetime and recurrence rate is high. The high risk of kidney stone disease imposes a significant burden on the healthcare system and emphasizes the need for improved therapy, including a wider range of medications to combat kidney stone formation. High calcium levels in urine lead to kidney stone formation and this risk can be reduced by decreasing calcium excretion into urine. The calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) is critical for regulating calcium transport in the kidney and the formation of kidney stones. I have discovered new evidence on how the CASR in the kidney increases calcium excretion via novel mechanisms. I will therefore investigate the underlying mechanisms of how the CASR regulates calcium transport in the kidney to uncover new pharmacological targets in the treatment of kidney stones.

Anna Krook

I propose studying how different tissues communicate to gain insights into overall metabolism and insulin sensitivity regulation. The research aims to explore altered inter-tissue communication’s role in metabolic disease development. Using samples from people with normal glucose levels or type 2 diabetes, we will analyze extracellular vesicles for metabolites and lipids involved in communication. We’ll consider both freely circulating factors and those carried in vesicles, such as miRNAs. Current large-scale omic analysis offers abundant data, but the challenge is moving beyond associations to understand mechanisms.

This research program seeks to fill this gap by using tissue culture and animal models to mechanistically study potential regulators of metabolism identified in our analysis. Emphasizing mechanistic validation of targets holds promise for uncovering new biology and pathways relevant to clinical intervention in type 2 diabetes.

Signe Sørensen Torekov

Childhood obesity is a big problem globally. This study introduces AI SYNERGY Family Care, a new way to help children stay healthy involving their families and using technology. It is different because it considers how parents’ weight and habits affect their children. The study will involve 400 families dealing with obesity, comparing this new approach with the usual care methods. The key idea is to use both medicine to help parents lose weight and an AI system that tracks family behaviors in real-time. This aims to improve how active they are, their sleep, and eating habits together. The goal is that if parents can stay healthy, their kids will too. The study hopes to change how we deal with childhood obesity, using AI to promote healthier habits that last through generations. If successful, this could transform healthcare and science, making a big impact on future generations’ health.

Jacob Tfelt-Hansen

Jacob Tfelt-Hansen says: “Sudden cardiac death (SCD) cases are tragic, often preventable, and multifactorial.  To understand a genetic component of SCD in the young, the project will examine possibility to screen for rare cardiac genetic variants from birth. To investigate other parts of multifactorial causes of SCD we will investigate common genetic factors, prescription drugs and their combination effect on mortality. The project will produce cardiac cells via stem cells from Achilles tendons from the SCD cases to in depth understand the cause of death. The results can lead to national screening of newborns for specific genetic variants for SCD, recommendation on combinations of prescription drug and guide clinical recommendation and treatment of relatives.”

Jacob Tfelt-Hansen is Professor and Senior Consultant at Department of Cardiology, Copenhagen University Hospital and Professor and Head of Research at Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen.

Fredrik Folke

Frederik Folke says: “Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest continues to present a major medical and societal challenge worldwide, constituting a societal burden greater than most other leading causes of death in the western world. As no single intervention is likely to change cardiac arrest survival significantly, the current research project offers a bundle of novel and innovative strategies to improve cardiac arrest survival including studies on: how to improve citizen guidance in cardiopulmonary resuscitation during emergency 1-1-2 calls; how to use crowdsourcing as a novel method to engage citizens in registering un-identified and non-functional Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) already deployed in the society; how engagement of local, volunteer citizens through the HeartRunner app affect cardiac arrest survival and whether there a need for focused interventions in areas with low socioeconomic status and how a strategy of equipping private vehicles with mobile AEDs can improve AED use in rural areas?”

Fredrik Folke is Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, Gentofte Hospital and Head of department, Department of Research, Copenhagen Emergency Medical Services. Frederik Folke has been Professor at Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, since 2020.

Francisco Pereira

Francisco Pereira says: “As the climate continues to impact our world, policymakers require advanced scientific simulation tools to navigate the intricate challenges and uncertainties that arise. While existing tools offer detail, they often fall short due to their narrow focus and resource-consuming performance. The APEX project addresses this challenge by introducing an integrated platform powered by machine learning, which synergizes various simulation tools to address the entire problem, not just isolated parts, while simultaneously optimising their performance. Utilizing today’s immense computational power, APEX explores and virtually tests a vast array of options, providing policymakers with a comprehensive and transparent analysis of a wide range of alternatives.

APEX will be applied in crucial domains such as transport, energy, and the environment, areas that have significant societal impact. Committed to the principles of human-aligned AI, APEX ensures that its artificial intelligence operates with a focus on transparency, fairness, and accountability, aligning technological advancements with human values and ethical considerations.”

Jacob Eifer Møller

Jacob Eifer Møller says: “In Denmark, almost 10.000 individuals annually suffer from a heart attack. In 5-10% of the patients, the damage to the heart is so extensive that the heart will not pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirement for oxygen and shock will develop. This condition is called cardiogenic shock. It seems intuitive beneficial to place a device that can pump blood to failing organs when the heart cannot. However, this treatment called mechanical circulatory support (MCS) is costly and associated with risk of serious complications, and evidence to guide choice of treatment is poor. The main objectives of this study are to improve the understanding of the use and consequence of advanced MCS, to improve patient selection for MCS and to assess the most beneficial way to apply this hyperinvasive treatment. This will be pursued through translational research, retrospective data studies with individual validation of data, and through a randomized clinical study.”

Jacob Eifer Møller is Professor at Department of Cardiology Odense University Hospital and University of Southern Denmark and Consultant at the Heart Center, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Rigshospitalet.

Vibeke Hjortdal

Vibeke Hjortdal says: “Congenital Heart Diseases are treated with good short-term outcome. Unfortunately, serious complications are seen when they get older. Fluid is filtered out of the blood circulation for the exchange of nutrients and waste products in the microcirculation. Lymphatic vessels transport 8 l of fluid back to the blood every day. Dysfunction results in fluid accumulation as seen in heart failure and edema and protein rich fluid may be lost in the gut or cause breathing problems in the airways. The lives of patients are troublesome and shorter. This project will identify how respiration and exercise can improve the lymphatic function and which medication can improve the lymphatic transport function. The brain is vulnerable in some patients with congenital heart diseases, and they experience psychiatric problems. This project will identify the type of psychiatric problems and in which types of heart diseases the problems are most pronounced and best helped.”

Vibeke Hjortdal is Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Rigshospitalet and Professor at Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen.

Rune Hartmann

Rune Hartmann says: Balancing pro-inflammatory and antiviral responses during a viral infection is a key challenge for our immune system and a major determinant of our ability to survive an infection. The pro-inflammatory responses are largely driven by the NFκB signaling pathway but determining the molecular mechanism whereby viral infections induce NFκB signaling and thereby inflammation has proven difficult in mammals. We recently discovered that the STING – NFκB axis represents an evolutionarily conserved antiviral pathway present in all metazoans. In mammals, the NFκB pathway has a dual function and is also required in developmental processes, which makes it difficult to study. In contrast to mammals, flies contain a NFκB transcription factor called Relish, which is required for the immune response, but apparently no function outside immunity. This opens a unique opportunity to use the power of the Drosophila model organism for characterizing the role of the STING – NFκB signaling axis in antiviral immunity and then translate those findings back in the mammalian system. We aim to use the powerful biochemical and genetic tools as well as unbiased screening approaches available in Drosophila to identify key components of the STING – NFκB axis. Our proposed work will allow us to understand how NFκB drives a pro-inflammatory signal and how the resulting inflammation creates significant pathology during viral infection in humans. Knowledge, which may prove critical to develop novel therapeutic strategies for specific targeting of the STING – NFκB signaling axis to lower inflammation in patients.

Rune Hartmann is Professor and Group Leader at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University.